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What I sometimes wonder is how vegans fare in Europe. The "fallback" option here in France is often either cheese or egg based. And even then, meat is so often used as a "flavoring" in those options.

Had a vegetarian boss when I worked in Germany. He loved cheese Spätzle, but nearly every time he ordered it, he found it was "flavored with" Speck (ham) and when he complained, he was usually told that, oh, that was just part of the flavoring. (OK vegetarians were considered pretty strange back 20 or 30 years ago.) But I'm told folks still encounter that to a certain extent here in France. "Lardons" are so often used in quiche or other cheese or egg dishes that the chef may not even consider that it may give vegetarians problems.

Of course for a while here, if you attended a dinner (like at a wedding or conference) and asked for the "vegetarian" option, you often were given what everyone else was having - with the meat part of the meal simply removed from the plate. Or a plate of steamed vegetables with no perceptible seasoning of any variety.
 

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Interesting read. For me “Why France” isn’t something you can define by analysis or calculation. You either have a feeling or you don’t, that France is a place you want to live in. I felt this from an exchange visit in Aix at 15, reinforced by working in the Pauillac vendanges at 20, after years of camping visits growing up and also watching French films of the 70/80s. There is culture, style and class. For me, moving here was to do with quality of life ( other options at the time, based on the chance of also working for extended periods in these countries, enough to ‘get by’ in the language were: Spain, Italy and Costa Rica). Finances, tax, bureaucracy, health systems, politics were/still are secondary - and are a necessary evil wherever you live - in fact I took a 30% pay reduction coming to Fr - but opportunities soon presented themselves to rectify that ( I read one thread here implying that hard work and study only gives opportunities in the US).
So anyone struggling to decide, after presumably knowing France enough for serious consideration, probably should follow their hunch that it is not for them.
Btw, I also lived in UK, US and Belgium long enough to know that it was “OK, but not for ever” (lacking that style, culture and quality of life).
 

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  • Coming up to retirement and looking for pastures new
  • Since Brexit, returning to the UK is a big "no"
  • I am half French - my wife has a Belgian passport
  • We want to move somewhere where we know the language
  • Spain too hot and arid
  • Germany? Language skills not that great
  • Both of us have lived periods in France and used to own a holiday house in France
  • I like playing pétanque
  • My wife owns a beret
  • We love the markets and brocantes
  • We understand what an old farmer means when talking millions of francs
  • I love garlic
  • I can shrug my shoulders with the best of them
  • Il y a un singe dans l'arbre writing the complete works of Shakespeare with la plume de ma tante
love your attitude!
 

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We very often get newcomers to the forum here who post a brief message asking about how to start preparing for a move to France. Sometimes these folks are pounced upon by some of our more "enthusiastic" forum regulars, challenging them with the same old questions - the first of which is often "Why France?"

Thought we should start a generic thread on things to consider up front when even just thinking about a voluntary move to France. (Assuming that, in a work-related move, you have your employer to fall back on for guidance, or in a student move, the demands of the program will affect your choice of venue.)

So - let's have some ideas about what you should be considering before you decide that you're moving to France. Let the games begin.

(If you have questions related to your situation, please start a new thread for your question. We need to keep this thread strictly generic.)
Cheers,
Bev
hi there ou comment ca la ba..Lets cut rhe blabla ..With that bleeming brexit I just wanted to ask anyone how can i go about it by the way ive british and french passport but the thing is twas such a long time ago..je suis ne en france mais after so many years in the UK my english is as good as my french et vice versa..I was working for the home office but now UK is bad news too much sucking up to the evil empire aka US..Anyway if anyone want to converse basically ive had enough with that gang of misfits @n10
 

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Not an expert but here's my contribution.

Don't underestimate the language difficulties. Most people have school/holiday phrasebook French but to live in France and be able to cope with day to day living you really need to prepare.

Obviously you can get by with little, but the frustrations will be endless and you may end up avoiding contact rather than seeking it out which is counterproductive.

So if possible learn as much as you can before you make the move.
French very easy even a 10 years old in france can speak it..a oui mon vieux...
 

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After about 20 years here I'm still not fluent enough for a telephone conversation. I have been far too busy modernising a wreck of a house on little or no money that I couldn't afford to waste time and money learning a new language. I'm in deep rural countryside and apart from the postie I rarely see a living soul so it has never been a problem. Bureaucracy can be dealt with online with translation software. Shopping is a breeze, its only numbers anyway.

Coming to France wasn't so much a question of choice, but a happy random result of wanting to get away from UK where I was judged by my job, qualifications, and how new my car was.
 

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After about 20 years here I'm still not fluent enough for a telephone conversation. I have been far too busy modernising a wreck of a house on little or no money that I couldn't afford to waste time and money learning a new language. I'm in deep rural countryside and apart from the postie I rarely see a living soul so it has never been a problem. Bureaucracy can be dealt with online with translation software. Shopping is a breeze, its only numbers anyway.

Coming to France wasn't so much a question of choice, but a happy random result of wanting to get away from UK where I was judged by my job, qualifications, and how new my car was.
Well that's fine if it's what you want. But learning French doesn't necessarily entail "wasting time and money": you just have to mix with French speakers and you will pick it up by repetition. But if you prefer to live like a hermit that's your choice, it just seems a bit sad to be living in France and missing out on so much that it has to offer. I am wondering if you aren't a bit scared of reaching out and meeting others? You got away from the uk but you are not really "living" in France, you have created a bubble in which you have chosen to stay, a nomansland where you feel safe. Perfectly fine if, as I said, it is what you really want.
 

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What I sometimes wonder is how vegans fare in Europe. The "fallback" option here in France is often either cheese or egg based. And even then, meat is so often used as a "flavoring" in those options.

Had a vegetarian boss when I worked in Germany. He loved cheese Spätzle, but nearly every time he ordered it, he found it was "flavored with" Speck (ham) and when he complained, he was usually told that, oh, that was just part of the flavoring. (OK vegetarians were considered pretty strange back 20 or 30 years ago.) But I'm told folks still encounter that to a certain extent here in France. "Lardons" are so often used in quiche or other cheese or egg dishes that the chef may not even consider that it may give vegetarians problems.

Of course for a while here, if you attended a dinner (like at a wedding or conference) and asked for the "vegetarian" option, you often were given what everyone else was having - with the meat part of the meal simply removed from the plate. Or a plate of steamed vegetables with no perceptible seasoning of any variety.
Vegan options have gotten a LOT better in France since I got here almost 10 years ago! I was vegan pre-moving to France, went back to being vegetarian when I moved to a small town in SW France, and then went back to being vegan once we moved to Bordeaux. These days, you can find coconut milk yogurt in almost any supermarket, and Casino is now selling violife and les nouveaux fermiers (vegan cheese maker and vegan meat alternatives, respectively). Bordeaux has lots of vegan-friendly restaurants. I think, like the US, it really depends where you are in France/Europe. Berlin also for example, is vegan foodie heaven. Course, I was at a wedding this past weekend, and got food poisoning I think from the caterer telling the couple that things were vegan that I now suspect were not, but no matter where you are, things like that can happen...
 

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Vegan options have gotten a LOT better in France since I got here almost 10 years ago! I was vegan pre-moving to France, went back to being vegetarian when I moved to a small town in SW France, and then went back to being vegan once we moved to Bordeaux. These days, you can find coconut milk yogurt in almost any supermarket, and Casino is now selling violife and les nouveaux fermiers (vegan cheese maker and vegan meat alternatives, respectively). Bordeaux has lots of vegan-friendly restaurants. I think, like the US, it really depends where you are in France/Europe. Berlin also for example, is vegan foodie heaven. Course, I was at a wedding this past weekend, and got food poisoning I think from the caterer telling the couple that things were vegan that I now suspect were not, but no matter where you are, things like that can happen...
That's good to know.

I feel for you about the food poisoning. I'm vegan due to an inability to digest certain things (since gallbladder removal) rather than by choice. I had a similar experience at a restaurant some months back and had stomach cramps overnight.
 

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That's good to know.

I feel for you about the food poisoning. I'm vegan due to an inability to digest certain things (since gallbladder removal) rather than by choice. I had a similar experience at a restaurant some months back and had stomach cramps overnight.
I think the thing is in France, you need to seek out specifically veg/vegan-friendly restaurants. Most traditional French restaurants are simply uninterested, tbqh. HappyCow helps a lot. I used to live in Les Landes, and finding vegetarian food alone was rather a challenge (mostly could get take out pizza or Indian food, that was it), but that was also 5 years ago. Since then, things have gotten much better. You have bio chains like BioCoop, Le Marché de Léopold, Naturalia, etc etc. And asian markets are a great source for tofu, faux duck, etc. Oh and if you want fresh produce directly from farmers, there's a good network of AMAP (the French equivalent of CSA, community-supported agriculture).
For restaurants, here in Bordeaux, we have a number of vegan/vegan-friendly burger places, a French vegan bistro (just opened this past year and is great), a vegan fusion Asian place (mostly focused on indonesian food), a number of places that do brunch, and so forth, and that doesn't even count the few places we haven't had a chance to try out. And there's also a 100% vegan store in the Bordeaux city center that has artisanal vegan cheese, faux meats etc. I don't go there often as it's spendy, but it's a nice treat every so often. Certainly has made huge improvements since I first moved here and people used to ask my husband if he got sick of eating « carrotes râpées » every evening. 🤪
 

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I think the thing is in France, you need to seek out specifically veg/vegan-friendly restaurants. Most traditional French restaurants are simply uninterested, tbqh. HappyCow helps a lot. I used to live in Les Landes, and finding vegetarian food alone was rather a challenge (mostly could get take out pizza or Indian food, that was it), but that was also 5 years ago. Since then, things have gotten much better. You have bio chains like BioCoop, Le Marché de Léopold, Naturalia, etc etc. And asian markets are a great source for tofu, faux duck, etc. Oh and if you want fresh produce directly from farmers, there's a good network of AMAP (the French equivalent of CSA, community-supported agriculture).
For restaurants, here in Bordeaux, we have a number of vegan/vegan-friendly burger places, a French vegan bistro (just opened this past year and is great), a vegan fusion Asian place (mostly focused on indonesian food), a number of places that do brunch, and so forth, and that doesn't even count the few places we haven't had a chance to try out. And there's also a 100% vegan store in the Bordeaux city center that has artisanal vegan cheese, faux meats etc. I don't go there often as it's spendy, but it's a nice treat every so often. Certainly has made huge improvements since I first moved here and people used to ask my husband if he got sick of eating « carrotes râpées » every evening. 🤪
Thanks for that.

I do make a lot of my own stuff, but always on the lookout for things like vegan cheeses (I have made my own, but not that easy)
 

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I have a number of American acquaintances who hold a fantasy about moving to France related, vaguely, to food, art, culture, and not being around American people or culture or politics that they find disagreeable. I believe it is worth remembering:

If you are speaking mostly in English socially, you will be speaking to lots of American and British people who will be as likely as at home to annoy you. Once your French is strong enough, you will be unable to ignore the same gamut of opinions and modes of belief in French people. The same social negotiations around competing ideologies, the same disappointment at the bizarre conspiracy theories to which otherwise lovely people adhere.

Further, you will likely spend a lot of time interacting online with the news sites, social networks, and all the digital spaces from home, and the social and cultural gears of the US will likely feel as close as ever. You are not stepping out of American society just by moving your feet.

So. Many. Mediocre. Crap. Boulangeries. The wheat subsidies and social support for boulangeries means one can certainly afford to do it badly and wow, can it be done badly. Do not underestimate the effort that those artisan bakers, coffee grinders, food lactofermenters, and cheese makers of the US have made in the last 25 years. There is not much you can get in France, normal workaday cuisine wise, that can’t be found in its highest form in California.

Give a watch to Super Nanny and “Cleaners, les experts du ménage” on YouTube and bathe yourself in the side of French Culture you will likely encounter most often.

On the language note, I profoundly agree. If you are living in English, you are isolated and limited. This is apparently not the case in other countries where English is widely used (Iceland, Sweden, Netherlands), but in France (maybe not in Paris I have no idea) it’s indispensable.

That is my 200 cents.
 

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Since then, things have gotten much better. You have bio chains like BioCoop,
Just because my husband works for a Biocoop I want to point out that Biocoop not a National chain but rather a franchise program. Many small markets, which often pre-existed Biocoop and joined as members to take advantage of buying opportunities and marketing support. The shops operate independently and adhere to their own rules about what products to carry or not (beyond the basic). Some have multiple locations (we have a 4 location single Biocoop member cooperative in Gap) , and that cooperative buys into the Biocoop franchise. But it’s not a chain in the sense of Intermarché. Those shops are independent and all a bit different.

And just while I’m on the subject please do not be fooled by the Intermarché arnaque that is Comptoirs Bio. It is Intermarché, not an independently operating market.

If you move to France you may become crazy like this, too.
 

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I have a number of American acquaintances who hold a fantasy about moving to France related, vaguely, to food, art, culture, and not being around American people or culture or politics that they find disagreeable. I believe it is worth remembering:

If you are speaking mostly in English socially, you will be speaking to lots of American and British people who will be as likely as at home to annoy you. Once your French is strong enough, you will be unable to ignore the same gamut of opinions and modes of belief in French people. The same social negotiations around competing ideologies, the same disappointment at the bizarre conspiracy theories to which otherwise lovely people adhere.

Further, you will likely spend a lot of time interacting online with the news sites, social networks, and all the digital spaces from home, and the social and cultural gears of the US will likely feel as close as ever. You are not stepping out of American society just by moving your feet.

So. Many. Mediocre. Crap. Boulangeries. The wheat subsidies and social support for boulangeries means one can certainly afford to do it badly and wow, can it be done badly. Do not underestimate the effort that those artisan bakers, coffee grinders, food lactofermenters, and cheese makers of the US have made in the last 25 years. There is not much you can get in France, normal workaday cuisine wise, that can’t be found in its highest form in California.

Give a watch to Super Nanny and “Cleaners, les experts du ménage” on YouTube and bathe yourself in the side of French Culture you will likely encounter most often.

On the language note, I profoundly agree. If you are living in English, you are isolated and limited. This is apparently not the case in other countries where English is widely used (Iceland, Sweden, Netherlands), but in France (maybe not in Paris I have no idea) it’s indispensable.

That is my 200 cents.
Well, if you move anywhere based on a fantasy it's probably not going to end well. Any successful move requires conducting copious amounts of due diligence as well as taking exploratory trips (IMHO). Also, I think that's it's poor logic to assume that your new home will be a panacea for the social/societal ills of the U.S. - every country has its share of these problems.

Now, why would "I" like to move to France? My wife and I are active, outdoors folks who like to bike, hike and walk everywhere. France condenses the vast geographical wonders of the U.S into an area the size of the state of Texas. Combine that with the incredible high speed rail lines, and most destinations are a day trip away. And if you're a hiker, France is crisscrossed by well mapped long distance hiking trails. Anyway, over the years we have ridden our tandem bicycle across France and hiked many of the GR routes.

As for being social and speaking the language, I've taken the time to teach myself to speak and comprehend well enough to get by. My wife and I are friendly but fairly insular - we have enough hobbies to keep us busy without the need to make many friends. We don't do social media at all and have no intention to obsess over what's going on back home. So, France awaits.
 
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